Final innings at the cricket club

Downend B 4  – Horfield B 2

(1) Steve Meek (183) ½-½ Mike Harris (175)

(2) Chirag Hosdurga (176) 1-0 John Richards (167)

(3) Olli Stubbs (174) ½-½ Paul Helbig (183)

(4) Mike Brigden (172) ½-½ Dominic Tunks (203)

(5) Martin White (170) ½-½ Peter Kirby (181)

(6) Andrew Munn (159) 1-0 Mike Jennings (110)

Horfield B were white on odd boards

There has been a fair bit of criticism of the new rule allowing juniors to opt for a faster time limit of 55 minutes plus a ten second increment. I am sure it was a well-intentioned idea, to encourage more juniors to play without having to have a late night. However, I know I am not alone in wondering whether it should apply to the top divisions. There are two players in a game and should you disadvantage one in order to advantage the other? It also has a distorting effect on board orders.

Take this match as an example. Chirag has been playing extremely well this season and had a 77% score coming into this fixture. He is 14 or 15 years old and is improving fast – his grade has gone up 35 points in 2 years. At this rate he will be a 200+ player soon. He needs to compete against stronger players. He has spent most of this season on board 4 for Downend B, but has now, deservedly, been moved to board 2. Mike Brigden gave me the requisite 72 hours’ notice of a junior requiring the faster time limit on board 2, so I canvassed my team to see who fancied taking this on. It’s fair to say there wasn’t much enthusiasm so I felt the captain had to step up for the team. However, these days I’m not the sort of stronger player Chirag should be taking on, for the sake of his own development. We all lose out in some way.

There was one plus. For once, I was sure who I was playing and could prepare, safe in the knowledge that Chirag would not be preparing for me. Armed with some games from the Internet, I prepared a a line in the Grunfeld and, sure enough, after 14 moves we were still following the line, I was 20 minutes up on the clock and I felt Chirag was struggling to find a plan. However, eight moves later I made an error and ended up a pawn down in a rook ending. Chirag was down to using the increment, but it was all he needed. 0-1.

Mike Jennings had stepped in on board 6. He came unstuck on the dark squares and Andrew’s pieces jumped in to give us our second loss. The other Mike was not happy with his game: he got nothing against Steve’s seemingly vast opening knowledge; drifted into -1, then played okay to re-organise and got lucky with the timing of his draw offer. Steve said had he known Mike’s plans/thoughts then he would have declined and played on. Paul was working hard but the position petered out to a drawn queen endgame. 1-3.

Dominic and Peter knew what was needed and both pressed to see if they could get an unlikely two points. Dominic’s position was particularly locked with no way through. It was not to be, and we levelled out the remaining boards.

Our last fixture at the Cricket Club, and the end of an era, as Downend move to the Cross Hands.

John Richards

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